Review: Ash at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Have your say

The attention of most music fans would have, justifiably, been on The Common this weekend.

But before that all kicked off, 400 lucky fans were treated to a masterclass in some of the catchiest songs from the past 20 years.

Ash may have a lot of great songs tucked under the belts, but they kick off proceedings with a pair of tracks from brand new album Kablammo!

The surf guitar of the instrumental Evel Kneivel barrels nicely into Cocoon, before the trio take us right back to the start of their career with a scrappy Jack Names The Planets.

This sell-out gig is a warm-up for the Northern Irish alt-rockers’ dates at the Reading and Leeds Festivals, and leans heavily on the new stuff.

But with the band admitting that they consciously looked back to their commercial peaks – their 1977 and Free All Angels albums – for inspiration, the new material slots in nicely alongside their other punk-pop gems.

And from the audience’s response, anyone watching without any prior knowledge of the band’s material would be hard-pressed to identify the likes of anthems-in-the-making Go! Fight! Win! or Let’s Ride as new songs.

However, those 1977-era classics, Oh Yeah, Kung Fu and set closer Girls From Mars still have the ability to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

The band have played The Wedge several times in the past, with frontman Tim Wheeler telling the appreciative crowd it’s ‘a spiritual home’ for them – and drummer Rick McMurray sports a fine Tricorn shopping centre T-shirt. Bassist Mark Hamliton is a man of few words, but he tears up the stage, rarely pausing for the entire set.

Evil Eye from Meltdown makes a welcome appearance, and naturally Shining Light inspires a huge singalong.

After a brief break, the trio breaks out an extended version of Return of White Rabbit for the first encore, before the appropriately incendiary Burn Baby Burn wraps things up.

Here’s hoping they don’t leave it another five years before their next visit to the city.